Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wanderers 2015.7.28

Dr. Peter Bechtold is speaking to a packed Linus Pauling House (Gordon Hoffman is here) about his career and world view.  This is Part Two of Two whereas I missed Part One, two weeks ago.  I'm doing my best to put together a picture.  The topic is ostensibly "the Middle East" -- what "Orientalists" study.

Dr. Bechtold thinks the greatest threat to US security is not terrorism but the foolishness of voters.  They have a poor track record of electing fools, which begets silliness in government.  The quality of debate in Canada is simply much higher.  The clowns here would not have such currency in a smarter country.

Today's speech by Congressman Ed Royce (Senate Foreign Relations Committee) was typical of the laundry list of misinforming BS that everyone in Washington DC is supposed to recite, according to Bechtold.  I didn't have much quarrel with his reading.

So what the US has some of the top universities in the world; we're talking about averages.  Keith:  Americans get one PhD dumber every seven years, thanks to television.  Voter turnout is abysmal. Lots of veterans sucker for expensive on-line degree programs, running up student debt.  Oregon as a state has been plummeting in the caliber of its educational programming, per various measures.

"Why are we talking about education levels, isn't this about the Middle East?" asked Steve.

Bechtold:  the connection is ignorance and misinformation.

Carol (mom) is here.  She wanted to compare notes on ISIL, a Sunni group inheriting from old Ottoman networks, and not the only group into beheadings (with or without guillotines), whereas bombs, such as dropped on Laos, render bodies into parts more randomly.
Because the US is uber-dumb, politicians are able take advantage of that fact.  The thesis here reminds me a lot of the Power of Nightmares.  The fear-mongers are the cheapest sort of politician and get a free ride when the voters are idiots.

The bar is very low and the kind of people attracted to Washington are the same people we'd normally want to lock away in Asylums of various kinds.  Instead, we indulge them in their fantasies of "running the world" -- they're armed and dangerous, so that's about the best we could do I guess?

Hey, kudos to politicians for at least voting, right?  Assuming voting rights still pertain (prisons are a lot about stealing away that right).

Military bases are a jobs program.  Bechtold painted a rather sanitized picture of how bases contribute to the economy based on his experience at Fort Campbell. I'm not entirely a stranger to bases either.

So what about the Congo?  Do we care about oppression there?  Saddam was maybe only the 18th worst dictator at the time he was deemed intolerable.

Only misinformation could get "us" to attack Iraq (I was against doing that myself, so don't revert to "we" that easily).  The monkey-brains got their way because of GIGO (garbage in garbage out).

Misinformation results in misbegotten adventures that should have been aborted, nipped in the bud early.  Instead, these crazy fantasies get out of the bottle to become self-fulfilling prophecies.

For lack of sufficient containment of powerful nightmares, humanity has paid dearly, in lives, in treasure, in prestige and in friendships.  Why did all that stupid stuff happen (e.g. Bremer Edicts and so on)?  Because of public enemy number one:  willful stupidity.  I think we get the point.

But is that news?  Aren't we just talking about the human predicament?  We're in over our heads, collectively, and it shows.  Philosophers know this already.  Policy analysts are finally coming to the same conclusion?  Welcome to Spaceship Earth, right?

But there's more to think about here, mainly how Affluenza spoils one's capacity to think.  Given we're a species that values cogitation over conspicuous consumption (?), raising education levels while reducing the ugly blight of consumer waste may well go hand in hand.